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Enhancing Talent, Attraction and Retention in the WV Workforce


In order to best understand how to keep talent in West Virginia while expanding the talent pool, WV Forward and partners are examining the barriers and incentives for those to enter and stay in the workforce. Coordinated efforts are underway among WV Forward, businesses, professional organizations, career centers, alumni associations, and public, private and community and technical college. The work includes exploring the out-migration of nearly the nearly 68,000 higher education graduates who have left the state over the past decade, discovering ways to bring West Virginia natives back home to new career opportunities, and identifying opportunities and pilot projects that attract new talent. 

Doing more to connect jobs to people and people to jobs will help grow and diversify the talent pipeline, fill job openings, unlock unrealized growth and increase the state’s GDP.
Demonstration of Adobe Creative Cloud to potential workforce.

talent forward

West Virginia has a strong talent pool of trained and educated workers. However, employers must know where to announce their job openings and talent must know where to search. WV Forward has connected with higher education institutions and skilled labor unions to provide contact information for employers to post jobs and learn more about the available workforce throughout the state.

Examples of wv forward in action

WV talent discusses pipelines 

West Virginia colleges break new ground to link talent to jobs

West Virginia has the highest student loan default rates in the U.S. In 2016 and 2017, WV had the highest default rates, and in 2018, it had the second highest default rates.

Need to Act

Data shows West Virginia exports too much of our most precious resource - its talent. West Virginia has five cities that rank among the worst on the national Bloomberg Brain Drain Index. Fewer than half of our recent public higher education graduates are in West Virginia's workforce today. WV Forward collaborators recognize we must do more on our workforce participation rates, education levels, livability of our communities, and more effective connections between people and jobs.


For the first time, WV Forward and more than 20 of West Virginia’s public, private and community and technical higher education schools’ career services and alumni associations are collaborating to better link talent to jobs. The group is looking at the barriers and opportunities for West Virginia graduates to remain in West Virginia and enter the workforce. This newly-formed Talent Pipeline Professionals group is working together to uncover solutions that link students and alumni to West Virginia jobs, employers, and opportunities. From the concerns raised by this mass out-migration of graduates in 2018, WV Forward and partners have recognized the need for information on recent graduates and alumni. After contacting schools across the state and better understanding limitations of the known data, an eagerness among the schools to share ideas and coordinate efforts emerged. With a universal desire to form a coalition to work together, WV Forward has helped assemble a diverse group of schools. The inaugural meeting was held on November 13 at the University of Charleston.

The Talent Pipeline Professionals are exploring the strengths and weaknesses of current job search systems for new graduates and alumni to determine what is working and what should be improved. They are also committed to tracking graduates throughout their careers to help identify better retainment strategies, with the goal to better assist West Virginia’s higher education system’s graduates and alumni, as well as how to better link them to West Virginia employers.


The Talent Pipeline Professionals are assuming projects throughout 2019 to (1) give all colleges access to best practices for receiving data from graduate job surveys and alumni directories; (2) identify strategies for securing key information and data from graduates, including those who have left the state; (3) prioritize West Virginia tailored career advising topics for all colleges in this state; and (4) identify potential opportunities for a joint online job listing database for our colleges and schools.

Talent Pipeline Professionals

  • Alderson Broaadus University
  • Bethany College
  • Bluefield State College
  • BlueRidge Community & Technical School
  • Bridge Valley Community & Technical School
  • Concord University
  • Davis & Elkins College
  • Eastern Community & Technical School
  • Fairmont State University
  • Glenville State College
  • Marshall University
  • MountWest Community & Technical School
  • New River Community & Technical School
  • Pierpont Community & Technical School
  • Salem University
  • Shepherd University
  • Southern Community & Technical School
  • University of Charleston
  • West Liberty University 
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College 
  • West Virginia Northern Community College
  • West Virginia State University
  • West Virginia University
  • West Virginia University-Parkersburg
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • Wheeling Jesuit University 

Additional Partnerships

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